“Proverbs”: A meditation through the lens of Robert Ellis

Irish photographer is featured in UW – Parkside Mathis Gallery



A thoughtful body of work featuring the rural landscape of Namulanda, Uganda and the surrounding community is open for viewing in the Mathis Gallery through Oct 18.

A sanctuary

Robert Ellis’ exhibit, “Proverbs,” presents onlookers with a sanctuary of images to sit in and search through.  This project refrains from iterating worn platitudes, framing any one story or claiming affinity with a particular idea. Instead, it is positioned as an exploration of a place, a people and over distances of time.

Unhurried and thoughtful

As an artist from Dublin, Ireland, Ellis first went to Nagenda International Academy of Art & Design in Uganda to teach as a stranger. His ongoing work there as a visiting lecturer and Artist in Residence has allowed for this project to develop gradually through personal relationships with the community and landscape. Effectively presenting changes through aesthetic variation, one subject is captured multiple times, over the span of several years, showing the maturing of his face, shift in clothing and slight turn in surroundings.

Listening to proverbs

In addition to the invitation to consider the reminiscent past and present through still frames, the exhibit includes a three screen video sequence looping behind a black curtain. The only audio components are of quiet, natural sounds and proverbs spoken intermittently in English and in a few of Uganda’s many indigenous languages. These Proverbs bear significance on the body of work, as Uganda has rendered the power of spoken work as a method of storytelling passed down through generations.  

Sense of life and solidarity

After viewing the exhibit for the first time, Gabrielle Tucker, a UW–Parkside sophomore, stated, “I get the sense of life in everything. With the name ‘Proverbs’ in mind, I’ve gravitated toward the image next to the man in blue, at the tree and considering it in view of the biblical idea of the tree of life. I also got the sense in watching the looping film, as it showed the ants working in daily life.” Tyler Steinsdorfer, a senior at UW–Parkside,  commented that, “It’s like the pictures want you try to find the meaning of solidarity…the way the man is looking off to the side, it’s as if he wants you try to find the meaning of solidarity but also…understand what has happened there.”

Visit the Gallery

Students, faculty and staff have the opportunity to view this work on campus until Oct. 18. More work is available at http://robertellis.eu/.

Reject Kavanaugh: Students for a Democratic Society Protest



Students on campus rallied to demand Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination be withdrawn

On Oct. 4 from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm. campus group, Students with a Democratic Society, gathered in UW–Parkside’s free speech area to rally in demand that Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination be withdrawn.

The Supreme Court nomination

In the late weeks of September, a heated controversy developed surrounding Brett Kavanaugh’s supreme court nomination. Dr. Christine Baisley Ford came forward with testimony that the nominee had sexually assaulted her when they were both teenagers in the summer of 1982. Debates were sparked as to whether the allegations were credible and whether a person with these allegations against them is fit to be assigned one of the highest roles in the country’s government.

Rallying for change

Aligning with many across the country who believe that the time for men in power to be held accountable for their actions against women’s bodies is now, a group of students at UW–Parkside rallied to demand that Kavanagh’s nomination be removed. This group, Students for a Democratic Society, invited students, staff and faculty to join in the public outcry that Kavanaugh should not hold a place in the Supreme Court.

Protest on campus

Being that the event was organized with a sense of urgency, many students were not aware of the opportunity to join the protest. Those who were in attendance, most of whom are members of the Students for a Democratic Society, held signs that read “#BelieveSurvivors” and “Reject Kavanaugh for Supreme Court Nomination.” During the two hours present, protesters invited people walking by over for conversation on the subject and discussed the importance of public conversation amongst themselves. At one point, a chant led by participants in SDS was shouted, “Hey Hey Ho Ho – Kavanaugh has got to go.”

Legitimize victim’s stories

One protester, Kelly Lutz, a member of SDS, criticized several misogynistic statements and actions of president Trump, considering the ways that allowing Kavanaugh’s nomination to be pushed forward will perpetuate the problem. She also commented that, “It’s important to legitimize a victim’s story. It doesn’t matter what time it happens. We need to legitimize the pain that sexual assault survivors experience as a community.” Another member of SDS, Victor Garcia stated, “This is a nationwide issue, and the fact that we’re still writing [sexual assault] off as ‘not a big deal’ is completely unacceptable.”

On Campus Assault

Bringing the issue of sexual assault itself to the foreground, many participants noted that over the days and weeks this allegation was being publicized on a national scale, the UW–Parkside community received an alert that a sexual assault had occurred on campus. A member of a different group working on a project nearby commented on the rally saying, “Sexual assault something that has to be talked about across campus, because, as the email sent out to students on Sunday stated, someone was assaulted right here, just recently.” Gabriella Stratton, member of SDS shared this sentiment. “There have been and continue to be sexual assaults on campus. I think it’s really important to bring light to the situation and make people more aware that these things do happen especially on college campuses and there are things we can do about it.” The recurring comment from the protest participants, in addition to the demand that Kavanaugh’s nomination be withdrawn, was that sexual assault cannot and will not be tolerated and that those who sexually assault others must be held accountable for their actions.

Moving forward

Students interested in partnering with Students for a Democratic Society or who would like to further the dialogue about this particular issue can find them on Facebook at Students for a Democratic Society UW–Parkside.

Dr. Benson’s Student Poetry Picks



A Non-Figurative Exhibition: Opening Reception September 15th


I drove to a gallery

near Bayview

to see a dream

or begin to bury it.


They were closed

to set up the next installation.


When the door opened

a man I’d seen before

thought I was there to meet him

about a painting.


I was not prepared

to explain why I’d walked in.


A woman with a tack in one hand

and a small bird – in a blue-sky 4 x 7 photograph – in the other

told me I could check back



Maybe I will

shoulder the hope of love until then.


I asked if she knew

where else I could go


since I had kindly been asked

to leave  


for now.

This Week in History: The Great Chicago Fire



The Windy City, Chi Town, The Second City—Chicago goes by many different names that each reflect the diversity of the city. Chicago, founded in 1833, is one of the Midwest’s oldest cities but now Chicago is known as one of the most modern and fastest growing cities in the United States. Becoming one of America’s most modern cities started with a disaster on the evening of October 8, 1871—The Great Chicago Fire.

Wild speculation

Anti-Irish discrimination was rampant in the 1870s, which led to stereotypes that Irish immigrants were lazy, shifty, drunk, and the list of negative qualities goes on. One immigrant, Mrs. O’Leary, was about to find an unfortunate amount of fame when a fire began on her property, likely in the barn, late one evening.

Although the actual cause is unknown and still disputed, Mrs. O’Leary was quickly blamed, the most popular theory being that while she was milking her cow, it kicked over the lantern that started the fire. After the fire was over, Mrs. O’Leary and her husband were never truly able to escape the pointing fingers.

Fire devils

Chicago had had an unusually dry summer and fall the year of 1871, which led to most of the wood frame buildings in the city becoming incredibly dried out and susceptible to the blaze. The flames from the O’Leary barn quickly made their way northeast on that particularly windy evening. This led to the “fire devils”, as the residents called them, which are what we now call convection spirals that sweep up burning debris and expel it in various directions. More buildings were soon set ablaze by the blazing detritus. The fire was finally over on October 11, as rain, firefighters, and stretches of undeveloped land caused it to slowly go out.

Damage and Rebuilding

The Chicago Fire, or Great Chicago Fire, as it was often called, led to the deaths over an estimated 300 people, only 120 of which were found and identified among the ruins of the city. Almost three and a half miles of the city were burned to the ground and over 17,450 buildings were lost. This fire had left one third of Chicago’s population homeless and destitute, having burned their homes, savings and valuables. Though it was difficult for Chicago to recover and rebuild, the city made the best of the situation.

Attracted to the job opportunities, many architects, both famous and upstarts, flocked to the city. Chicago began to rebuild with new safety regulations, new building styles and materials, and even the first skyscrapers began were built. Chicago entered into a phase known as the Great Rebuilding. Chicago was reimagined into a modern city and set the pace for the famous architecture and building design the city would come to be known for, The Chicago School of Architecture. Though devastating, the Great Chicago Fire led to the renewal of one of America’s most famed cities and fire prevention protocols that helped save lives for decades to come.

“Toni Erdmann” a.k.a “Awkward silence: The movie

Toni Erdmann 1 (fwweekly.com)
Ines Conradi, played by Sandra Huller, naked in film “Toni Erdmann.” COURTESY OF FWWEEKLY.COM

ROSEMARY SCHWEITZER | schwe035@rangers.uwp.edu

Foreign Film Series ends with a ‘huh?’

Over the course of the past year, UW-Parkside has played host the some of the most critically acclaimed foreign films of 2016 and ‘17, ranging from musical comedies to historical dramatizations. In my personal opinion, the majority of these films have been engaging and interesting, but only one has inspired a second watching, and others have been genuinely difficult to get through. The most recent addition to the latter list would be the final film of the series, “Toni Erdmann”.

“Toni Erdmann” is the story of a driven career woman and the quirky father that turns her life upside down in a matter of days and manages to show her that a little humor never hurt anyone. Sounds like a real gut-busting, heartstring-pulling adventure, doesn’t it?

Well, most of the critics would have to agree

“Toni Erdmann” is likely one of the highest rated films from the Foreign Film Series, recieving a 93% rating from Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, as well as a 7.5 out of 10 on IMDB, not to mention all the awards. This one film was nominated for 126 different awards, including an Oscar, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA, and more than half of the nominations were for best film. Of the 126 award nominations, “Toni Erdmann” actually won 51. Reviewers all over the world have been all too eager to throw praise at the film, saying that movie-goers are in for a laugh out loud, thought provoking treat. A.O. Scott of the New York Times went so far as to claim that “Toni Erdmann” was “By a wide margin the funniest almost-three-hour German comedy you will ever see.”

Personally? I think that barely misses being an insult to German comedy, because there cannot be that many “almost-three-hour” German comedies.

Blink and you might miss the genius

I have no idea what I missed while watching the film, but it must have been something big, because there is no way I would rewatch this film, let alone nominate it for an Oscar. I have never minded a dramatic or thoughtful pause or lull in dialog, but when that lull lasts upwards of ten seconds, and the only payout is a middle-aged man putting in a set of glaringly false teeth? Call me crazy but that does not fit my definition of hilarious.

The characters were hard to identify with as well, and may be that is because of my young age and lack of life experience, but they all seemed so humorless or shallow or just plain dull.

Giving credit where credit is due

In all fairness, the last half hour of the film was a complete departure from the rest of the somber attempts at comedy and was startlingly funny. However, when I say “startlingly”, I do meant that. Seriously, if you are not in the mood to see a bunch of nude people awkwardly interacting after having already interacted awkwardly for two hours, just skip this one and come back hoping next year’s Foreign Film Series has a better selection. That’s what I’ll be doing.